• Português
  • English

Is there culture in the home office? What do we lose and gain?

[ Home > Blog > Is there culture in the home office? What do we lose and gain?]

Gradually, each company has chosen its official “post-pandemic” path. There are 3 variations: full home office, hybrid and 100% face-to-face.

Excluding from this conversation the businesses where the work cannot be done from home, because it depends on machinery that is difficult to move around, the production chain or the provision takes place in the act of face-to-face consumption, for those who can but are still afraid of virtual work, the question remains : is there culture in the virtual?

To say that there is no culture in the home office, you must first understand what culture is

Around here, our preferred explanation of what organizational culture is is that ‘culture is what people do when the boss isn’t looking’. In addition to this explanation, here are two of the most respected and accepted definitions of culture, made by reference authors in organizational culture:

  • ‘Culture is the set of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered or developed to deal with the problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and which work well enough to be considered valid and to be taught to new members as the way correct way of perceiving, thinking and feeling in relation to these problems’ (Schein, 1984)
  • “Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes members of a certain category of people from others.” (Hofstede, 1990)

How does culture form?

A number of elements influence the formation of organizational culture, they are:

  • Founder. Culture starts with the founder, his experiences and personality. Since the 1st, culture already exists, because there is already a way of being and doing things.
  • Geography. The place where the company is installed, geography and local culture, influence the organizational culture.
  • Customers. The demands and needs of the public influence the culture. The company exists to serve the customer, if the customer demands innovation, the culture must be more innovative, for example.
  • Competitors, competitors and industry. The type of competition will determine the level of aggressiveness with which the company places itself in the market and its dynamics of action. When the Doctor discovers something new, he shares it with others, but this no longer happens when we talk about technology startups.
  • Selection, promotion and dismissal. People with the same values as the company are hired. It brings equals, in relation to what is right and wrong, the so-called cultural fit. From this, those who follow the values are promoted and those who go against what is unacceptable are dismissed.

How does culture manifest itself?

According to Hofstede, organizational culture manifests itself through its elements, organized in layers. The elements demonstrate what works as a lever for the long-term strategy, and therefore must be maintained, and those that act as an obstacle, needing to be adjusted or extinguished.

The 5 layers of organizational culture, according to Hofstede, are:

  • Symbols;
  • Heroes;
  • Rituals;
  • Practices;
  • Values.

How does culture change?

The organizational culture can and should be managed to support the strategy instead of acting as a handbrake pulled. There are situations where culture change is expected:

  • Fusions and acquisitions;
  • Restructuring, downsizing, outsourcing and privatization;
  • Moments of strong influence of external factors such as recession, technological and market opportunities;
  • Internal crises and power succession processes;
  • Socialization processes for new professionals.

How to make the change? In order for the culture to transform, there are 3 levers that must be used, acting as guides of what is right and wrong, desired and rejected, they are: selection, promotion and dismissal.

Culture in the home office, does it exist?

Examples of what we miss in the home office:

  • Instant micro management;
  • Physical symbols of power, such as: chair, table, parking lot and cafeteria;
  • Face-to-face moments of relaxation, such as: lunch, coffee, get-togethers and happy hour;
  • Agility, like asking someone who is on your side and having the answer at the same time;
  • Visual confirmation of people’s availability;
  • Proximity and building solid relationships.

Each of these cultural elements has a meaning. Micromanagement reduces autonomy, inhibits risk-taking, boldness and creative thinking. Symbols of power by office reinforce the hierarchy. Moment of relaxation creates a space for more closeness and venting than rarely appears in formal agendas. Physical proximity gives room for spontaneity and its lack reduces it. Indicating unavailability in the computer status and chatting with the colleague next door is different from actually being unavailable, which in the virtual world is more difficult to confirm.

The biggest challenge is ensuring that the aforementioned healthy elements find a new way to manifest. And ensure that what is toxic in the face-to-face is extinct in the virtual.

Examples of how organizational culture manifests itself in the home office

  • Wallpapers in video call;
  • WhatsApp photo and other networks used in the company;
  • Open or closed camera in calls;
  • Type of corporate computer and cell phone;
  • Treats that arrive at home;
  • Home office/internet/energy/water assistance;
  • Respect or disrespect for business hours and lunch hours by the professional, colleagues and boss;
  • Environmental interactions (such as children, dog, husband, wife, doorbell) seen as welcome or unwelcome;
  • Clothing adopted and/or required;
  • Equal or different availability depending on who it is, and the use of the camera in interactions by the same criteria;
  • Communication networks used, messages and languages arranged in them;
  • Online meetings and events.

How are the rest of the cultural elements manifested?

It continues to exist too, good or bad. In addition to the examples cited for the home office, thousands more of the face-to-face work remain in virtual reality, such as:

  • Language and acronyms;
  • Rules;
  • More and less valued professionals;
  • Hierarchy;
  • Who is valued and a source of inspiration;
  • Desired values and behaviors;
  • Selection, promotion, evaluation, development and dismissal criteria.

A company that manages face-to-face culture correctly, manages to adjust channels and formats in the virtual environment and continues to maintain each value in the same way. What we see is more accommodation or even laziness on the part of some to actually make the adjustments, using the virtual as an excuse.

There is culture in the home office!

Published in December 2022.

AUTHOR [Danielle Amate]